To Hell and Back: Lil Nas X and MSCHF's 'Satan' Shoes
Lil Nas X has recently been the centre of attention for the international media for and the credit for this can be given to two things: first, the release of the radical music video for his song Montero (Call Me By Your Name), the Satan shoes he has designed in collaboration with the brand MSCHF. With controversial visuals that include the rapper giving a lap dance to the Devil in one scene, amongst other things, the music video which released on 25th March now boasts over 90 million views! The shoes that dropped following the release of the music video, received multiple reactions online ranging from hate, disgust, shock and even in some cases, admiration.
Limited to only 666 pairs, (a reference to the Devil's number 666) the controversial kicks retailed at a whopping $1,018 USD, and what’s even more surprising is that all the pairs were sold out in under a minute. The shoes that are based on the Nike Air Max 97 silhouette have some truly crazy details on them.
Featuring all-black uppers that are individually numbered on the lateral rear counter, the words 'Luke 10:18' can also be seen on the lateral-side front quarter. Apart from this, the shoes sport an engraved bronze pentagram on the tongue and an inverted cross on the tongue label and to really top it all, contain an air bubble that is filled with 60cc ink and a drop of real human blood.
However, this isn't MSCHF's first rodeo. Having previously dropped a 'Jesus' shoe, the streetwear label is no stranger to controversial designs. The Jesus shoes were, in a sense, the counterpart of the new Satan shoes and instead sported an air bubble that contained a drop of Holy Water from the Jordan River – talk about the 'holy grail' of kicks for real! Although both shoes received plenty of good and bad attention online, the one extra thing that the Satan shoes attracted was a lawsuit from Nike. Nike has now sued MSCHF under the claim that “these shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF’s products and Nike.”
MSCHF has claimed that its shoes are just a form of art that has been worked on by a number of individuals, and not letting the shoes hit the market is an attack on free speech and freedom of expression. While MSCHF has tried clearing the air by stating that the motive behind the Satan shoes is not something sinister, some people have pointed out that the line between self-expression and mocking is a thin one – and the Satan shoes, in the eyes of a lot of people, manage to cross that line.
This isn't the only argument people have for cancelling the shoes either; while some are slightly absurd, like a select group thinking that the shoe drop is a part of a conspiracy by the Devil himself, other groups feel that the shoe drop undermines their religious beliefs. That's not to say that no one is on Team Shoes; a bunch of people are in awe of the controversial, bold move by Lil Nas X and MSCHF, and admire them as pieces of art, while holding the belief that Nike only filed a lawsuit due to the political pressure the brand was facing. And, you know, to protect its own image.
And rightly so – when the first look of the Satan shoes first surfaced online, people were highly confused as to why Nike would produce such a controversial shoe in the first place, eventually even leading to several people 'cancelling' the brand online. The shoes also received heavy criticism from high-profile political and religious figures, further tarnishing Nike's brand image.
To somewhat pacify the outrageous claims, Nike immediately came out with a statement stating that it had no relationship with Lil Nas X or MSCHF and that it neither designed the shoes, nor endorses them in any way, form or fashion. This statement was then followed by the trademark infringement lawsuit that demanded MSCHF immediately stop fulfilling all remaining orders of the unauthorised Satan shoes.
On 31st April the U.S District Court approved Nike’s request for a temporary restraining order against MSCHF and demanded that the shipping process of the shoes should be stopped immediately. According to MSCHF, the Satan shoes are a piece of art that will not be worn on the road, but kept in the museum.
Although MSCHF was prepared for the drama following this release, they did not imagine the magnitude and full extent of the backlash that would ensue. What exactly happens to these infamous shoes now is up to the courts to decide, but one thing is for sure – if they hit the market their price is only going to sky rocket.